Removal and Storage of Abandoned Vessels
Notification Procedure O.C.G.A. 52-7-71
If the vessel was removed from public property or public water at request of law enforcement, and the vessel owner is not known, provide this completed form to local law enforcement within 72 hours of removal. Applicable Form- ABANDONED VESSEL REQUEST FOR INFORMATION.
If vessel was removed from private property or private water at request of property owner, and the vessel owner is not known, provide this completed form to local law enforcement within 72 hours of removal. Applicable Form- ABANDONED VESSEL REQUEST FOR INFORMATION.
If the owner is known and the vessel is not stolen, being repaired by a repair facility, or being stored by an insurance company providing coverage, use this form to notify the vessel owner within 7 days of removal by certified or registered mail. Applicable Form- ABANDONED VESSEL NOTICE.
If the owner fails to redeem or if vessel is being repaired by a repair facility or vessel is being stored by an insurance company providing coverage becomes abandoned, the person removing or storing vessel shall within seven (7) days after abandonment, notify the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR) and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). Applicable Forms- ABANDONED VESSEL NOTICE AND INFORMATION REQUEST.
If person removing or storing a vessel becomes aware of the identity of the owner of said vessel, use this form within five (5) calendar days, by certified or registered mail. Applicable Form- ABANDONED VESSEL NOTICE.
If the vessel owner’s information cannot be ascertained, the person removing or storing the vessel shall place a notice in the legal organ in the county where the vessel was removed. If no such paper exists, the notice shall be posted at the county courthouse where such public notices are posted. The notice shall run or remain posted for two (2) consecutive weeks. Applicable Form- REDEMPTION NOTICE.
If a vessel is recovered by the owner, claimed by the owner, determined to be stolen, or for any other reason is no longer abandoned, the person removing or storing the vessel shall use these forms to notify the GA DNR and GBI within seven (7) days. Applicable Forms-NOTICE OF ABANDONED VESSEL RECOVERY OR REDEMPTION.
LIEN FORECLOSURE PROCEDURES O.C.G.A. 52-7-74
Any action to foreclose a lien on an abandoned vessel must be instituted within one (1) year from the time the lien is recorded or asserted by retention.
The demand upon the owner of the vessel for reasonable fees for removal and storage plus the costs of any advertisement, shall be made by certified or registered mail or statutory overnight delivery. Such written demand shall include an itemized statement of all charges. No such demand shall be required if the identity of the owner cannot be ascertained and the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 52-7-71 have been complied with. Applicable Form- DEMAND FOR PAYMENT.
If after the elapse of ten (10) days from the date of delivery, the owner fails to respond to said demand, refuses to pay, or if the owner cannot be ascertained, the person removing or storing may foreclose such lien.
The person asserting such lien may move to foreclose by making an affidavit to the Magistrate Court showing all facts necessary to constitute such lien and the amount claimed. Applicable Form- ABANDONED VESSEL AFFIDAVIT.
Additional Information regarding Lien Foreclosure Procedures:
- The filing fee for an ABANDONED VESSEL AFFIDAVIT shall be $5.00 per vessel.
- With the filing of the affidavit, the lien claimant shall give the clerk the address, if known, of; the owner, lessor, lessee, security interest holder, and lien holders of the vessel. The clerk shall give notice to each of these addresses of the right to a hearing to determine if reasonable cause exists to believe that a valid debt exist.
- A hearing must be petitioned for within ten (10) days after receipt of such notice; and if no petition is forthcoming within time allowed, the lien will conclusively be deemed valid.
- Any notice required above shall be by certified, registered, or overnight mail, and if the owner, lessor, lessee, security holder, and lienholder are not known, by posting notice at the courthouse.
- If a petition for a hearing if filed within ten (10) days of notice given by the owner, lessor, lessee, security holder, and lienholder, the court shall set such hearing within ten (10) days of the filing of petition.
- If the court determines that reasonable cause exists of the valid debt, the person asserting the lien shall retain possession of the vessel or the court shall obtain possession of the vessel by court order.
- The owner-debtor may obtain possession of the vessel by giving bond and security in the amount due, plus costs of the action.
- Within five (5) days of the probable cause hearing, any party defendant must petition the court for a full hearing on the question of the valid debt. If no such petition is filed, the debt will be conclusively valid, and the foreclosure granted. If the petition is filed, the court shall set the hearing within fifteen (15) days of the filing of the petition. Upon the filing of the petition, neither the lien holder, nor the Court may sell or dispose of the vessel.
- If, after hearing on the petition above, the Court finds the debt valid, the Court shall grant the foreclosure upon and sale of vessel subject to the lien if such debt is not otherwise immediately paid.
- If the court finds that the actions of the person asserting the lien in retaining possession of the vessel were not taken in good faith, the court may award damages to the owner, or any interested party, due to the deprivation of the use of the vessel.
- If no petition is filed, or if, after full hearing on the petition, the court finds a valid debt exists, the court shall authorize, by order, the sale of the vessel. The holder of a security interest in or lien on the vessel, other than the holder created by O.C.G.A. § 52-7-73, shall have the right, in order of priority of such interest, to pay the debt and costs. If this occurs, that person shall have the right to possession of the vessel, and that person’s interest in the vessel shall be increased by the amount paid. A court order shall be issued to this effect, and no sale of the vessel shall occur.